Saturday, April 26, 2008

Carlson's The Gospel Hoax


Not being in school this semester has afforded me a few positive things - one is that I can read anything I want whenever I want, unhindered by school reading (which I usually enjoy anyway). Last Sunday I checked out a few books from the library and Stephen Carlson's The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of Secret Mark. "Wow" is really all I can say. It was so good that I read it in one sitting. Carlson puts to work his legal training, looking through evidence carefully and even-handedly. There's no sense of a vendetta, there's no condescending tone (in fact, if anything, you get the idea that Carlson is kind of proud of Smith for pulling off such a great hoax). "Hoax" is also something that Carlson explains as being different from an outright forgery. Carlson maintains that Smith, or atleast part of Smith, wanted to be caught, and thus hid clues within the text that allow us to see it for what it is : a hoax. Unfortunately, I've already returned the book to the library, so I can't do an extensive review - but I highly recommend it. It's engaging, obviously well-researched, and precise in its argumentation. I look forward to what Carlson publishes in the future.

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